Jake Quickenden has revealed that he will run his first ever marathon dressed as a “massive” bone in memory of his younger brother Oliver.
Oliver was just 19 when he died of bone cancer in 2012, the same disease that killed their father four years earlier.
Jake said running the TCS London Marathon on April 23 will be difficult and emotional but remembering Oliver will motivate him to complete the 26.2 miles (42km).
“I like to test myself and do these things because I can, I’m still on this Earth with air in my lungs, and my little brother can’t,” he told the PA news agency.
“I’ll remind myself that Oliver would love to be here, doing this and it will drive me on.
“It’s a massive outfit. I don’t know how it’s going to be to run in.”
Just Jake’s face, arms and legs will be visible in the huge costume which will feature information to explain that sarcoma is bone and soft tissue cancer.
“I think when I’m 20 miles in and I can barely walk, I will be quite emotional,” said Jake, who hopes to raise £10,000 for Sarcoma UK.
“That’s why I have got him there on the costume with me, that will give me the extra motivation.
“He’s always there with me anyway.”
The former Dancing On Ice champion who rose to fame on The X Factor and played football professionally has never run a marathon before.
“I did the London Landmarks Half a couple of years ago and I’m pretty excited, nervous but it’s all for an amazing cause,” he said.
“I can’t wait to do it.”
Jake, who came second in I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! but had to withdraw from competing in TV show SAS: Who Dares Wins due to a shoulder injury, added: “I started off really good, training like I was Mo Farah.
“I have hurt my foot, hurt my calf so the training has dropped off.
“No matter what happens, I will finish it. I’d still do it if I was on crutches.
“I was going to try to get an unbelievable time. I’m going to be dressed as a massive big bone. It’s just about enjoying it now.”
Jake, who welcomed son Leo with Sophie Church in 2021 and got married last year, said he did not exercise as much during the first six months of fatherhood but added: “Now he’s two I can get out and do a run. My wife’s a great support.”
“I just try to get it in when he’s napping, when he’s in bed, or when he’s not got up yet.”
Oliver died from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer mostly diagnosed in teenagers and young people, and Jake previously fundraised for Sarcoma UK by shaving his head.
He was praised for raising awareness last year after he underwent a testicular examination live on TV, during an all-male takeover of Loose Women.
Jake said being a father had made him realise how important regular checks were and he wanted to encourage men not only to check themselves but to feel able to talk to their friends about it.
“I have tried to use the platform I have got to help people rather than just post pictures of my six pack,” he told PA.
“It’s given me more of a reason. Before, when I wasn’t trying to help people, I felt a bit lost.
“I feel like that’s what I’m here for.”
He has also spoken about his own experience of grief and told PA: “It’s important to talk about grief.
“If you go through grief or are affected by cancer, you can get through it.”
Sarcomas are uncommon cancers that can affect any part of the body. A key symptom is a lump that gets bigger quickly.
About 15 people are diagnosed with sarcoma every day in the UK, about 5,300 people a year, and many can have tumours removed with surgery.
Osteosarcoma makes up about 30% of all bone sarcoma diagnoses and mostly affects the knee, thigh bone, shin bone or upper arm.
Symptoms include bone pain, particularly at night, a mass or swelling and restricted movement in a joint and can sometimes be confused with more common problems such as a sports injury or growing pains.
Information and support is available from the Sarcoma UK Support Line which can be contacted by emailing [email protected] or calling 0808 801 0401.
To sponsor Jake, visit: https://justgiving.com/fundraising/jake-quickenden
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